By on January 3, 2014

asleep

 

“You have to carry the fire.”
I don’t know how to.”
Yes, you do.”
Is the fire real? The fire?”
Yes it is.”
Where is it? I don’t know where it is.”
Yes you do. It’s inside you. It always was there. I can see it.”

-Cormac McCarthy

January 1st marked the second anniversary of my full-time employment at TTAC, and my third as a writer for the site. Since then, I’ve served under three different E-I-Cs, watched popular writers come and go, made an effort to read every single comment, return every email, meet readers in person and act as the liason between our owners at VerticalScope and the rest of the staff. On January 1st, Jack announced that in a short time, I’ll be taking over as Editor-In-Chief, but I somehow managed to miss the post entirely, as show above.

This year also marked my completion of a “Triple Crown” of sorts, where I managed to get on the bad side of each of the Detroit Three. To be fair, my run-in with GM occurred in 2010, but it ended up setting a pattern that fully manifested itself at TTAC.

In 2009, I was an intern at a now defunct start-up car shopping site called VLane. As part of GM Canada’s early outreach to online “influencers”, I was given the chance to drive a 2010 Camaro V6 RS. At the time, the Camaro was praised to high heaven by the Detroit Free Press and the buff books. The car was a turd, and I said so. When GM Canada angrily called my editor, he stuck up for me – a remarkable act of courage, given that I was a nobody and my review could have “compromised VLane’s relationship with a valued partner”. The review even attracted the attention of some more prominent blogs, who wanted to know how my review could be so negative, when all of the mainstream reviews were so enthusiastic about the car.

Four years later, I experienced the exact same sequence of events when I drove the new Jeep Cherokee: I sampled a highly anticipated new product and was the lone voice of dissent amid a sea of uncritical reviews.  In both cases, I was vindicated. Not long after the Camaro was released, the tide of popular opinion turned, and the press began to report unfavorably on it. Chrysler took the courageous and unprecedented move of indefinitely delaying production of the Cherokee to iron out flaws with the 9-speed transmission, one of the major criticisms  that I leveled at the car. Vindication is satisfying for about a second, but doesn’t offset the frustration that comes with having to defend your findings when they are incongruent with the rest of the herd.

When Ford decided to blacklist me from their press fleet because of my MKZ review, I was grateful to see that TTAC readers banded together to take Ford to task on social media for their punitive action against the site. Your efforts were sufficient to attract the attention of Ford’s global public relations team, who quickly ended the moratorium. I cannot tell you how gratifying it was to know that the B&B were willing to go to bat for myself and the site, and use the collective power of our voices against a PR machine that was trying to silence us.

This spirit of honesty and independence will continue when I assume the title of Editor-In-Chief, whether it’s one month from now or one year from now. I have never so much as spoken to Robert Farago, but I intend to keep alive his legacy, by reporting The TRUTH About Cars, no matter what it may cost us in financial resources or “access”, the great stick that the auto makers use to keep journalists “on-message”. Meanwhile, I will strive to keep learning as much as I can about the design, engineering, manufacturing, wholesale and retail sides of the business, building on the lessons taught to me by Ed, Bertel and Jack.

To paraphrase Bob Lutz, I will be “often unpopular, never in doubt.” I will always be honest, and never afraid to admit I’m wrong. I will continue to, as Cormac McCarthy put it, “carry the fire”. It still burns white hot within me. I hope you can all see it.

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41 Comments on “Editorial: Often Unpopular, Never In Doubt – A Belated Thank You From The Managing Editor...”


  • avatar
    Dyl911

    We wish you well and are looking forward to continued good work from TTAC.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Great work Derek. Congrats.

    I can understand it’s frustrating to be the lone opinion about something, when against the media herd buffet munchers, and the mega-corporations, who too often don’t have a clue.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Well this is good news. You have to call them as you see them; be objective, tell the truth and you’ll never go wrong.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Jack has done a great job and I am sure you will too.

  • avatar

    Derek – Jack’s leaving you some huge writing shoes to fill, but what a great challenge. I’m sure you’ll continue the upward projectory we’ve seen in 2013…

  • avatar
    -Nate

    This is great news ! .

    Keeping the _TRUTH_ in , isn’t always easy , good to know you’re on the side of honesty and let the chips fall where they may .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Congrats Derek. your work does not go unnoticed here, I’m happy to know you’ll be heading things up in the future.

  • avatar
    Frankie the Hollywood Scum

    Well deserved Derek.

    How about another article that will make people mad. I’ll suggest a topic. Why the V6 Mustang looks great on paper, drives fine, but is really no more fun than a V6 Camcord.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    You’ll do fine… I don’t know why everybody picks on you. Guess it’s better then being ignored

    Cheers!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Congrats on the big promotion!

  • avatar
    morbo

    Great, Canada’s given us Ted Cruz, Justin Bieber, and now Derek. What did we ever do to deserve this!

    Seriously though congrats.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    Relevant to being banned from a manufacturers press fleet, I remember a couple of instances when Road&Track was denied testers of the 1966 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and Aston Martin DB6, when they felt road tests of each were due. They just turned to buyers who recently had purchased them, and arranged to borrow examples of each, and said so in each road test. The lesson is editors will test what they want, when they want, whether or not the manufacturer and their press fleet managers feel like acting as adults. No manufacturer is above their products being compared, or above quickly repairing their relationship with a single media outlet. To be fair to both, the RR incident was due to the manufacturers unwillingness to have their car compared, and the Aston Martin incident was due to a lack of any real press fleet maintained by the manufacturer in the States, and distributor British Motor Car Distributors of San Francisco coordinated the loan of a privately-owned example.

    Derek, congratulations, and we wish you the best in your new gig.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      The risk is not getting cut off from access to cars; anybody can find an example to drive via renting or borrowing.

      The risk is getting cut off from the product previews in Napa Valley/Germany/Italy, with 5 star hotels, grand buffets, and top shelf liquor flowing. Or the expensive “long term tester” that the publisher/editor/journalist gets to drive for months at no cost. Those bennies are almost priceless, and very few people want to get off the gravy train.

      Notice Den Neil never conducts a car review in Jersey City or Gary, Indiana? Nice work if you can get it.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Jack’s not leaving the site though is he?

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m sure you will do great.

    FWIW, the tweaks made to the Zeta Camaro since its launch have helped a few of the maddening issues with it. You can even see out of it if you buy the convertible!

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Go for it, Derek! Strength (JB) to strength (DK) is something to celebrate.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Congrats, Derek. You have learned a lot about the industry over the past few years. It will be interesting to see how you continue to develop and where you take this site.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Want credibility, fix this in TTA’s header bar:
    “Want To Save Gas? Don’t Buy American – Announcing The True Heroes And True Villains At The Pump”

    BTW, 15,038 Cherokees last month! Wonder how many armchair CEO’s will get fired over this?

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “sanitizing history” is about the last thing one should do to try to gain “credibility.” Ronnie said as much in a previous post; they don’t care to try to cover up the past.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The article shouldn’t be deleted, but pulling it off the header wouldn’t hurt anything either.

        If nothing else it was written back in March 2012 so it’s starting to get a bit out of date (along with some of the other posts up there).

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You need to give this fanboy stuff a rest.

      The writer of the aforementioned article did a fine job of using it to expose his sloppy critical thinking skills and apparent biases. He actually did everyone a favor by writing it, as anyone with a few brain cells should see that his analysis is not to be trusted.

      Fortunately, there is a comments section where errors can be corrected and bogus assertions can be challenged. Fight bad speech with good speech.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      Agreed on removing that link, it’s time for a change.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Not knowing either of you, but based on my reading of almost everything you both have written, I think you will make a better E-I-C than Jack, and he would (will, I hope) make a fantastic Editor At Large.

    Congrats!

  • avatar
    trackratmk1

    Congrats Derek and great work. You and Jack have turned this blog around. I always liked the b&b here but the content is better than ever before. I used to read ttac on occasion, but now it is a daily stop and in my RSS feed. I also refer dozens of budding car enthusiasts here to reference existing pieces or to get a grip on the industry. Glad to see you put the truth over popularity.

  • avatar
    Acd

    While Jack has been the more public face after this summer’s reset your contributions have not gone unnoticed. Continue to be genuine and honest with the readers and TTAC will continue to prosper. Here’s to a great 2014!

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Just another immigrant doing a job that Americans don’t want to do ;-)

  • avatar

    I missed that MKZ review until someone (probably Jack) wrote something that brought it to my attention. It was terrific.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I have always found car/truck reviews lacking because of the fact that they tend to be poorly orchestrated cheerleading sessions. Journalists do not want to bite the hand that feeds them and car companies play up that fact. The relationship between journalists and car companies is definately in favour of the car company.

    I want truth above all.

    Congratulations.

    The hand that feeds journalists deserves to be bitten if all that they are providing is fresh turd.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Congratulations Derek. I wish you well.

    The best business advice I ever got was from an old boss who said give the customers they want.

    Good luck in you new role.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    It’s pretty amazing that the MKZ review got you temporarily banned given all the positive press Ford generally gets here. They are quite sensitive I guess.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    You seem like a decent bloke, despite your eastern Canadian roots. I expect to see an outsized influence by all who say “eh” instead of “huh”. Plus, the mere fact your favorite marque isn’t German will make your tenure an improvement. The plebes will have a senator.

  • avatar
    vaujot

    Congratulations and good luck. You and Jack have done well since you two took over.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    Well deserved! I’ve enjoyed all of your editorials, and I think you’ve done a fantastic job so far. At the LA auto show, I kept secretly hoping to bump into you. Color me a fan!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    There is a fine line between courage and foolishness, and between confidence and arrogance.

    Be careful, and keep up the good work.


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